About Cascadia & Bioregionalism
Cascadia is a term that means many things to different people.
Firstly, it is a bioregion that defines the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada, incorporating British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, parts of Idaho, southern Alaska and northern California, and in many ways is geographically, culturally, economically and environmentally distinct from surrounding regions. It defined through the watersheds of the Columbia, Fraser and Snake River valleys. It is a place in the world with unique flora and fauna, topography, geology and is comprised of a interconnected ecosystems and watersheds.
Cascadia is also a growing social and cultural movement. It is used to define a unique regional character found within the Pacific Northwest, and extends to a wide range of beers (Cascadia Dark Ale), sports (the Cascadia Cup) and music (Cascadian Black Metal) just to name a few. The idea has since been adopted by a wide range of researchers who highlight the growing importance of regional growth management, environmental planning, economic cooperation, as well as disaster preparedness. Support for the idea also comes from institutions and businesses such as the Bullit Foundations 'Cascadia Center', the adoption of the Cascadia Megaregion by federal policy makers, and the tectonic Cascadia Subduction Zone.
A much more common definition of Cascadia instead seeks simply to help further local autonomy, empower individuals and communities to better represent their own needs, as well as push or environmental and economic responsibility, and increased dynamic, transparent and open governance. The Cascadia movement encourages people to reengage with their local communities, develop local and personal resilience (community gardens, disaster preparedness, etc.), and create alternate lines of regional communication, politics, and interdependence that better represent the social, cultural and political boundaries that define our region.
CascadiaNow! is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization to support these activities. Our organization raise awareness of, and educates about bioregionalism, Cascadia & the Cascadia movement, and serves as an umbrella non-profit for a wide range of groups and causes - so that every person can be supported in the work that they want to do. The term Cascadia was adopted in 1970 by Seattle University professor David McCloskey, as a way to better describe our growing regional identity. McCloskey describes Cascadia as "a land of falling waters." He notes the blending of the natural integrity and the sociocultural unity that gives Cascadia its character. Definitions of the region's boundaries vary, but usually include the area between the Cascade Range and the Pacific Ocean, and some part of the Coast Mountains. Other definitions follow the boundaries of existing subnational entities, and usually include the territory of British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, while others also include parts of California, Idaho, Alaska and Yukon.
In general, the area in and around the Cascadia region is more commonly referred to as the Pacific Northwest. The area's biomes and ecoregions are distinct from surrounding areas. The resource-rich Salish Sea (or Georgia Basin) is shared between British Columbia and Washington, and the Pacific temperate rain forests, comprising the world's largest temperate rain forest zone, stretch along the coast from Alaska to California.
This is Cascadia, and we are Cascadian. Join us!
A Bioregional Reading List:
The Biosphere and the Bioregion: Essential Writings of Peter Berg - Cheryll Glotfelty and Eve Quesnel, 2015. Includes essays, poetry, interviews, etc. summarizing Peter Berg’s vision of bioregionalism.
Environmental Anthropology Engaging Ecotopia: Bioregionalism, Permaculture, and Ecovillages. Lockyer, Joshua, James R. Veteto. 2013. Berghahn Books. Part of series: Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology. “Using case studies from around the world, the contributors-scholar-activists and activist-practitioners examine the interrelationships between three prominent environmental social movements: bioregionalism, a worldview and political ecology that grounds environmental action and experience; permaculture, a design science for putting the bioregional vision into action; and ecovillages, the ever-dynamic settings for creating sustainable local cultures.”
Growing Greener Cities: Urban Sustainability in the Twenty-First Century Birch, Eugenie L. and Susan M. Wachter, editors. 2008. (The City in the Twenty-First Century). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. In this “collection of essays on urban sustainability and environmental issues, scholars and practitioners alike promote activities that recognize and conserve nature's ability to sustain urban life. These essays demonstrate how partnerships across professional organizations, businesses, advocacy groups, governments, and individuals themselves can bring green solutions to cities from London to Seattle. Beyond park and recreational spaces, initiatives that fall under the green umbrella range from public transit and infrastructure improvement to aquifer protection and urban agriculture.”
(PDF) Bioregionalism - ed. Michael Vincent McGinnis, 1999. Routledge, London. This book’s focus is on the place of bioregional identity within global politics. A watershed, biome, ecosystem—in short, representations of a bioregion—can be restored and sustained if a society fosters the institutional capacity of communities to participate and cooperate to preserve the commons.
The Corporate Planet: Ecology and Politics in the Age of Globalization. Karliner, Joshua. 1997. San Francisco. Sierra Club Books.
One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism. Greider, William 1997. New York. Simon and Schuster.
Ecosystem Geography. Bailey, Robert. 1996. New York. Springer.
This Place on Earth: Home and the Practice of Permanence. Durning, Alan. 1996. Seattle. Sasquatch Books.
The Watershed Source Book: Watershed-Based Solutions to Natural Resource Problems. Natural Resources Law Center. 1996.Boulder. University of Colorado: Natural Resources Law Center.
Descriptions of the Ecoregions of the United States. Bailey, Robert. 1995. USDA Forest Service, Washington, D.C. Misc. Pub. 13901
Forman, Richard T. 1995. Land Mosaics: the Ecology of Landscapes and Regions. New York. Camabridge University Press.
Luccarelli, Mark. 1995. Lewis Mumford and the Ecological Region: The Politics of Planning. New York. The Guilford Press.
*Snyder, Gary. 1995. A Place In Space. Washington DC. Counterpoint. “....He argues that nature is not separate from humanity, but intrinsic to it, and that since societies are natural constructs, it’s imperative to go beyond racial, ethnic, and religious identities to find a shared concern for acts that benefit humans and nonhumans alike.”
Jackson, Wes. 1994. Becoming Native to this Place. University Press of Kentucky. The Blazer Lectures for 1991. (also 1996. Washigotn DC. Counterpoint). “In six compelling essays, Wes Jackson lays the foundation for a new farming economy grounded in nature’s principles. Exploding the tenets of industrial agriculture, Jackson, a respected advocate for sustainable practices and the founder of The Land Institute, seeks to integrate food production with nature in a way that sustains both.”
Kellert, Stephen R. and E.O. Wilson, eds. 1993. The Biophilia Hypothesis. Washgton DC. Island Press.
Shuster.Hawken, Paul. 1993. The Ecology of Commece: A Declaration of Sustainabiliaty. New York. HarperBusiness.
Home! A Bioregional Reader. Andruss, V., Plant, C. 1990. Plant, J., and Wright, E., eds. Philadelphis. New Society Publishers.
Nine Nations of North America, 30 Years Later - Joel Garreau, The New York Times, July 3rd, 2014. An update on Garreau’s original delineation of North America into nine distinct regions, including Ecotopia.
The Bioregional Imagination: Literature, Ecology, and Place. Lynch, Tom. 2012. Athens, Georgia. University of Georgia Press. The twenty-four original essays here are written by an outstanding selection of international scholars. The range of bioregions covered is global and includes such diverse places as British Columbia’s Meldrum Creek and Italy’s Po River Valley, the Arctic and the Outback. There are even forays into cyberspace and outer space. In their comprehensive introduction, the editors map the terrain of the bioregional movement, including its history and potential to inspire and invigorate place-based and environmental literary criticism.
Bioregionalism and Civil Society: Democratic Challenges to Corporate Globalism. Carr, Mike. 2005. (Sustainability and the Environment 9). UBC Press. “...explores the bioregional movement in the US, Canada, and Mexico, examining its vision, values, strategies, and tools for building sustainable societies….bioregionalism as a philosophy with values and practices that attempt to meld issues of social and economic justice and sustainability with cultural, ecological, and spiritual concerns.”
Urban Place: Reconnecting with the Natural World Barlett, Peggy F. 2005. (Urban and Industrial Environments). Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT Press. “This volume brings together research from anthropology, sociology, public health, psychology, and landscape architecture to highlight how awareness of locale and a meaningful renewal of attachment with the earth are connected to delight in learning about nature as well as to civic action and new forms of community. Community garden coalitions, organic market advocates, and greenspace preservationists resist the power of global forces, enacting visions of a different future.”
The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society. Lippard, Lucy R. 1997. New York. The New Press. “...one of Amnerica’s most influential art writers weaves together cultural studies, history, geography, and contemporary art to provide a fascinating exploration of our multiple senses of place. Expandin her reach far beyond the confines of the art world, she discusses community, land use, perceptions of nature, how we produce the landscape, and how the landscape affects our lives. She consistently makes unexpected connections between contemporary art and its political, social, and cultural contexts.”
The Case against the Global Economy: And for a Turn to the Local. Mander, Jerry and Edward Goldsmith, eds. 1996.San Francisco. Sierra Club Books. “...gathers more than 40 economic, agricultural, and environmental experts to convey a complete picture of how globalization will affect our lives.”
Sale, Kirkpatrick. 1985. Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision. San Francisco. Sierra Club Books.
Meyrowitz, Joshua. 1985. No Sense of Place: The Impacat of Electronic Media on Social Behavior. New York. Oxford University Press.
Sale, Kirkpatrick 1983. Mother of All: An Introduction to Bioregionalism. In Hildegarde Hannum, ed. Annual E.F. Schumacher Lectures Book 3. Great Barrington, MA. Schumacher Center for a New Economics. (Available on Kindle from Amazon). “Sale outlines four basic determinants of any organized civilization—scale, economy, politics, and society—and demonstrates how bioregionalism is an appropriate organizational model in each area, with historical validity and a workable vision for the future.”
Reinhabiting a Separate Country: A Bioregional Anthology of Northern California. Berg, Peter, ed/ 1978. San Francisco. Planet Drum Foundation.
The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture. Berry, Wendell. 1977. New York. Avon Books. (also San Francisco. Sierra Club Books). “Since its publication by Sierra Club Books in 1977, The Unsettling of America has been recognized as a classic of American letters. In it, Wendell Berry argues that good farming is a cultural development and spiritual discipline. Today’s agribusiness, however, takes farming out of its cultural context and away from families. As a result, we as a nation are more estranged from the land—from the intimate knowledge, love, and care of it….Sadly, his arguments and observations are more relevant than ever.”
Snyder, Gary, 1974. Turtle Island. New York. New Directions. “These Pulitzer Prize-winning poems and essays by the author of No Nature range from the lucid, lyrical, and mystical to the political. All, however, share a common vision: a rediscovery of North America and the ways by which we might become true natives of the land for the first time.”
The Bioregional Economy: Land, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Cato, Molly Scott. 2013. New York. Routledge. “The global economy is driven by growth, and the consumption ethic that matches this is one of expansion in range and quantity. Goods are defined as scarce, and access to them is a process based on competition. The bioregional approach challenges every aspect of that value system. It seeks a new ethic of consumption that prioritises locality, accountability and conviviality in the place of expansion and profit; it proposes a shift in the focus of the economy away from profits and towards provisioning; and it assumes a radical reorientation of work from employment towards livelihood.”
Bioregionalism and Global Ethics. Studies in Philosophy Series. Evanoff, Righard. 2011. New York. Routledge. Evanoff argues that the current goal for globalization is not only unattainable but also undesirable because it ultimately undermines the ability of the environment to sustain both human and non-human flourishing, exacerbates rather than overcomes social inequalities both within and between cultures, and fails to achieve genuine human well-being for all but a wealthy minority. An alternative bioregional global ethic is proposed which seeks to maximize ecological sustainability, social justice, and human well-being through the creation of economically self-sufficient and politically decentralized communities delinked from the global market but confederated at appropriate levels to address problems that transcend cultural borders.
Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision - Kirkpatrick Sale, 2000. University of Georgia Press, Athens. This book is an attempt to lay groundwork, suggest basic outlines, encourage thought, and discussion.
LifePlace: A Bioregional Approach to Planning, Education and Stewardship. Thayer, Robert L., Jr. 1999.Berkeley. University of Californial Press. Provocative meditation on bioregionalism and what it means to live, work, eat, and play in relation to naturally, rather than politically, defined areas. In it, Thayer gives a richly textured portrait of his own home, the Putah-Cache watershed in California's Sacramento Valley, demonstrating how bioregionalism can be practiced in everyday life. Written in a lively anecdotal style and expressing a profound love of place, this book is a guide to the personal rewards and the social benefits of reinhabiting the natural world on a local scale.
Global Civil Society and Global Environmental Governance: The Politics of Nature from Place to Planet. Lipschutz, Ronnie D with Judith Mayer. 1996. Albany, New York. State University of New York Press. From the back cover: “What will it take to protect the global envrionment? In this book, Ronnie D. Lipschutz argues that neither world government nor green economies can do the job. Governmental regulations often are resisted by those whose behavior they are intended to change, and markets - even green ones - look to profits more than to protection. What will be needed, Lipschutz believes, is not global management but political action through community- and place-based organizations and projects. People acting together locally can have a cumulative impact on environmental quality that is significant, long lasting, and widespread.”
Bioregional Perspectives - Gary Snyder, in The Practice of the Wild, The Place, the Region, and the Commons, 1990, North Point Press, San Francisco. (Begins page 37). From a collection of essays by poet and environmental activist Gary Snyder.
Snyder, Gary. 1990. The Practice of the Wild. San Francisco. North Point Press. “These essays, first published in 1990, stand as the mature centerpiece of Snyder’s work and thought, and this profound collection is widely accepted as one of the central texts on wilderness and the interaction of nature and culture.”
Naess, Arne. Rothenberg, David, trans. And rev. 1989. Ecology, Community and Lifestyle: Outline of an Ecosophy. Camabridge Uniersity Press.
Le Guin, Ursula, 1985. Always Coming Home. New York. Bantam. “More than five years in the making, it is a novel unlike any other. A rich and complex interweaving of story and fable, poem, artwork, and music, it totally immerses the reader in the culture of the Kesh, a peaceful people of the far future who inhabit a place called the Valley on the Northern Pacific Coast.”
Kemmis, Daniel. 1990. Community and the Politics of Place. Norman. University of Oklahoma Press. “Daniel Kemmis argues that our loss of capacity for public life (which impedes our ability to resolve crucial issues) parallels our loss of a sense of place. A renewed sense of inhabitation, he maintains —of community rooted in place and of people dwelling in that place in a practiced way—can shape politics into a more cooperative and more humanly satisfying enterprise, producing better people, better communities, and better places.”
Articles on Bioregionalism
(PDF) Bioregionalism and the North American Bioregional Congress - Bron Taylor, The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, London & New York: Continuum, 2005. Discusses the development of bioregionalism and the North American Bioregional Congress beginning in 1984.
(PDF) Bioregionalism: An Ethics of Loyalty to Place - Bron Taylor, Landscape Journal, Vol. 19, Issue 1/2, 2000, University of Wisconsin Press.
“This paper assesses the history, types, impacts, perils and prospects of ‘countercultural’ bioregionalism and its offshoots.”
(PDF) Environmental Pragmatism and Bioregionalism - Kelvin J. Booth, Contemporary Pragmatism, Vol. 9, Issue 1, 2012. Paper arguing the importance of bioregionalist ideas within the realm of environmental pragmatism.
Bioregionalism: The Need for a Firmer Theoretical Foundation - Don Alexander, University of Waterloo, The Trumpeter, 1996, Athabasca University Press. Discusses the differing methodologies of bioregionalism and the possibilities of criteria for defining them.
(PDF) The Bioregional Quest for Community - Michael Vincent McGinnis, Landscape Journal, Vol. 19 Issue 1/2, 2000, University of Wisconsin Press. This essay addresses the need to reformulate and reconceptualize bioregionalism.
Mother of All: An Introduction to Bioregionalism - Kirkpatrick Sale, ed. Hildegarde Hannum, Third Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA, October, 1983. Lecture given by Kirkpatrick Sale on bioregionalism in relation to scale, economy, politics, and society.
Bioregional Programs and Resources in the Pacific Northwest
Curriculum for the Bioregion -Collection of resources, activities and essays about Bioregionalism - Jean MacGregor, Senior Scholar and Director, Curriculum for the Bioregion. Contact MacGJean@Evergreen.edu
Interactive Tools: Mapping Your Watershed
Discovering Your Life-Place: A First Bioregional Workbook - Peter Berg, 1995. Planet Drum Books, San Francisco Discusses bioregionalism and assists in identifying and defining readers’ life-place.
Ecoregions of the United States. Bailey, R. G. 1994. USDA Forest Service, Washington, D.C. Misc. Pub. 1391 (Map).